Thursday, March 8, 2012

Fiction | Revolutions of the Personal and National Kind

I picked up Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly at BEA a couple years ago, and it's been sitting on my shelf since. It's made it through the occasional shelf weeding, because I've always thought the premise sounded ok and if I ever needed an easy YA read, this is where I'd go. And that time had finally come!

Revolution is about a moody troubled teen, Andi, living in Brooklyn. Her 8-year-old brother tragically died the previous year (though we don't know how for quite some time), her mom has gone a little crazy with grief, and her dad is off somewhere being a famous geneticist. It's her senior year, and with the way she's heading, she's probably not going to get to graduate. She doesn't do her work; she's not working on her senior thesis; she just doesn't care about any of it. The only thing she does care about is music lessons, and she's an extremely talented guitarist.

When Christmas vacation rolls around, Andi's dad drags her to Paris where he is working on a special project to prove whether or not a tiny, preserved heart (eww, I know) was that of Louis Charles, the son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette who was imprisoned by Revolutionists until his death. In Paris, Andi finds an old guitar and journal belonging to a girl named Alexandrine who lived during the Revolution and was closely tied to Louis Charles. Andi becomes obsessed with the journal and begins a quest to find out how it all ended while coming to terms with her own tragedies and future.

I really did like this book, and I'm glad I'd never weeded it off my shelf! I loved the historical story; it was almost like a scavenger hunt that we, the reader, got to play alongside Andi as she made new discoveries. But there's one thing...and maybe this is just intrinsic to the written word format...but teenage emotions just sound so whiny on paper. I was thinking the whole time that if this was a movie, the subtlety of expression and staging of the scene would convey a mood without any words needing to be uttered, but because it's on paper, all of that is described and it just makes me roll my eyes and say, "Oh boy, here comes the flood of emo." I honestly don't think there's a solution, and maybe it's just me—cinematography has somewhat ruined descriptive language for me. And it's certainly not an issue unique to this book (so don't be turned off by my rambling!), but I just especially noticed it.

On a coincidental side note, a few days after I finished this, Marie Antoinette popped up on my Netflix queue, and I love that movie. It is just so stylistically beautiful yet apparently slightly controversial in its portrayal of Marie Antoinette. And both of the trailers featuring New Order were perfection.

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